Thursday, June 30, 2005

Huh?!

You have got to be kidding me. First, Joska Fischer, former police-officer-head-kicking-street-thug is made German Foreign Minister...now the new "President" of Iran is a former hostage taker.

Arthur says it is actually much worse than that.

In the US, we get people like Michael Moore wandering out of the fever swamps, suggesting all sorts of dark, conspiritorial things about our leaders. In the real world, we have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...when is his "Tehranheit 911" coming out? /crickets chirping/

Gratuitous Afghanistan Photo of the Day (XX)



Soldier in the Zin Ghar (Mountains south of Bagram, North of Kabul).

Sailing Away

Woo Hoo! I finally got my boat in the water yesterday!

I took my three daughters with me. It was their first time on a sailboat. Unfortunately there was no wind. We went out for about 10 minutes and took a half hour to get back in. My youngest cried the whole time. She never wants to go again. That could make it difficult to use the boat again.

I will have to work on her.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Not Good News

Damn. I didn't even want to look at this story. I find myself extremely reluctant to look at the losses in Afghanistan - I just don't want to see anyone or any unit I know...

Gratuitous Afghan Motorcycle Picture of the Day (XIX)


How many Afghans can you fit on a bike? One more.
I have had credible NCOs tell me they have seen 7 on one bike...

Ever Find Yourself Cursing In Bradenton, FL at 3 AM?



Missed a day of posting - was busy enjoying the 0% on time record of "Ted", a part of United. Well, "Untied" is a part of United too. I did get to catch up on my profanity practice as I crossed the bridge across Tampa Bay at 2:30 am...I really won't miss the travel when I change jobs next week.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Woody Allen Beat Down

Another object lesson for those that would annoy James Lileks.

Our Name


Remember - We here at Miserable Donuts are only basking in the borrowed name-glory of "the Donut of Misery". So here it is, once again.

Gratuitous Afghanistan Photo of the Day (XVIII)


CSM Mark Bowman and Squadron Leader Richard Langley - Man, am I glad they are on our side...

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Gratuitous Afghan Photo of the day (XVII)


Said Hakim (AKA Commander Commander) the oldest surviving fighter against the Russians, hence the double honorific, and Asadullah, district police chief of Bagram District, Parwan Province.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Gratuitous Afghanistan Explosion Picture of the Day (XVI)


Oooh. I hope we meant to do that...

Friday, June 24, 2005

More Help From Our European Friends

US News has an interesting little article on a little fundraising by some of our staunchest backers [said in most heavily sarcastic tone possible...] in Europe. I truly wonder what the governments of the countries these people operate in will do?

[Thanks to Will Collier].

Gratuitous Afghan Nomad Picture of the Day (XV)


Kuchi ("those who move") nomads on the edge of the Panjshir Valley.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

They Seem to Have Mislaid Their Copy of The Constitution

I am starting to wonder when aliens kidnapped the US Supreme Court and left evil replicants in their place. Private property - homes no less(!) - are now subject to the whims of local officials, who can execute a taking for such a hugely important "public" good as a Wal-Mart...They seem to have started with the First Amendment shredding (commonly known as upholding "campaign finance reform" despite a fairly clear directive ... y'know, "Congress shall make no law...") and then the 9th and 10th Amendments got the last handful of dirt tossed on their graves. Looks like the Takings Clause just got the works. Disgusting.

UPDATE: Hubris is already applying the newly established Kelo precident. Heh. [thanks to Jeff]

Gamers Delight

It's Game Time.

Gratuitous Wrecked Afghan Aircraft Photo of the Day (XIV)


I dunno...I mean, we might have some damned fine mechanics - but I don't think they can salvage this one...

Heroine Quest

I broke out my old HeroQuest game last weekend to play with my niece, nephew and two of my daughters. Actually it isn’t that old as I bought it after I owned my house. I wasn’t that big into RPGs when I was a kid, I did play, but not as feverishly as some of my friends.

We had a good time after the painful explanation of the mechanics. The hardest part to get across was that they weren’t playing AGAINST each other.

The girls really liked the game and I think they might be interested in not only playing again, but in playing other games.

I am surprised that RPGs aren’t more popular with women. RPGs are just people sitting around talking and developing relationships. Isn’t that the hallmark of the fair Venusians?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

You'll Just Have To Read This Yourself

I don't know if Jeff just needs more sleep or he is giving us a nice glimpse into writing talent. 'Prop might be the best qualified to answer that.

A Tough Question


Tempus42, as is his wont, asks a really tough question in the comments to an earlier post: Is the natural state of man to be progressive and striving toward improvement, or to lead a semi-civilized subsistence existence? Is the U.S. an aberration?

Now without going into Max Weber or really giving it some serious thought like Victor David Hanson, I came up with a few thoughts.

What you see above is a picture of the Inner Prop and I at an exercise in Ukraine in 2003. The Ukrainians we met were decent enough people, not really much different from us - except that they lived in a crap strewn, quasi-despotic country. The Almighty had seen fit to bless Ukraine with great natural wealth - but the scum at the top of the quasi-despotism felt a sense of entitlement to all of it. The people lived under one law - who can, may.

The very next year, while 'Prop and I were in Afghanistan, the Ukrainian regime tried the same old tricks as always with the elections of 2004. What happened next became known as the Orange Revolution. What the regime did was nothing new in that part of the world - but the people acted quite differently. Why? In a word, communication.

The Ukrainians had satellite TV to see news and life in free countries. The Ukrainians had internet access (and blogs too) and all the access to information that entails. The Ukrainians had cell phones - yes, cell phones. How did that matter? When you are angry and boiling, but don't know if anyone else is feeling the same - would you go occupy the central square of Kiev? But if you can call or e-mail all sorts of friends and relatives, you may find you are much less than alone. Not only that, you can get others to go along. And one million or so Ukrainians end up in central Kiev, the regime crumbles and progress becomes possible.

The US isn't necessarily an aberration - but we are the elephant in the living room. You just can't miss us. Australia is another, more regional example of how freedom and progress are intertwined. You can also point to Japan or certain European nations (Netherlands, Britain, etc.).

I am optimistic in the sense that people in crap strewn despotisms can more and more see the US (Australia, etc.), and what life is like when the droit de seignuer types aren't running rampant. Hence the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, the Kyrgyz first steps toward a modern, liberal (small "l") state. Sometimes people like 'Prop and I have to go help - ie. Afghanistan and Iraq. But the people there have shown that they rather enjoy being free and will try to rise above the semi-civilized, subsistence existence.

I know others have been more eloquent about this - and more organized in their thoughts. When I can, I'll post links to them. I just wanted to toss a couple of thoughts in m'self.

I'll Forgive, but I'll not Forget

Senator Durbin gets the boot from Mayor Daley and later on gives a strange, more or less apology. It still reeks of the "I apologize to those who thought my remarks went over the line, but I ain't sorry I made them," but I guess it'll have to do. Oh, and stop blubbing, Senator. Cripes man, act like a member of the World's Greatest Deliberative Body, not a guest on Dr. Phil.

Gratuitous Afghanistan Bomb Photo of the Day (XIII)


When I first saw this I half expected to see Yosemite Sam wandering around, squashed flat, so all you could see was his two feet sticking out from under his hat.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Comments Open

I am opening the comments to anyone. Previously, they were restricted to registered users only. We'll see how this works out...Oh, and by the way, if anyone puts anything offensive on here, I'll dump it.

Endorsement Question

Tim Blair has thoughts on a certain someone's presidential thoughts for 2008...heh.

The Major and the Minor


Major John discusses matters of state with a civilian (a.k.a. Maddie).

Startled Pashtun Villagers Photo of the Day (XII)


Elders of Qal'eh-ye Golay. They just could not figure us out, heh heh. When the Soviets were there, and they wanted something - they took it. But we spent months negotiating leases on enough land to put in a road to our base...and not only did we pay, but they could use the road too. As I say, they didn't really understand us fully.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Conspiracy Theory/Humor

Like conspiracy theory? Like (dark) humor? Try this on for size...

Gratuitous Afghanistan Photo of the Day (XI)


A small store in Charikar, Parwan Province.

The Lawyer Who Came In From The Cold

I post as a "Citizen-Soldier", and that is what I consider myself. Some know what I have done as a soldier, but not many know my deep, dark secret...I am a lawyer in civilian life. Not for much longer, however. After 5 years as a prosecutor, and 5 as a corporate-trial defense lawyer, I am making a change. I am becoming what Tempus42 describes as a Senior Peon. I will be at a different Corporation That Is Not To Be Named.
Why would I leave a field where I had spent so much time? A good question that I am still trying to answer fully. Burnout? Not as such. New opportunity? Partly. Stability, after my two deployments (Bosnia and Afghanistan)? A big part, yes. I also feel that I may have lost something, some spark that let me become (in my humble opinion) a very good trial attorney. I can no longer see myself facing a jury in a civil case and arguing with the passion that evey client deserves.
I would be keenly interested in hearing from any other attorneys - particularly those no longer practicing. What happens to cause this? What was your motive to change your career?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Gratuitous Happy Father's Day Afghanistan Photo (X)


Happy Father's Day, anon. father in Deh-e Hazara.

I hope you and your family are well. This morning I remembered how I had met you - on a humanitarian assistance mission to your village. I wonder if things are better in Deh-e Hazara now. It seems strange that only 6 months ago I was in your village for the first time. You, and everyone else there, were so very happy that we came. All the good people at home had sent us clothing, shoes, and especially baby gear - and your village was grateful for it. I was glad I managed to come back two more times before I left for my home.
I know all of you love your children very much. Everyone was so happy to tell us that a new school was opening. I hope someday that your son will be able to write you something nice like in the card I got from mine today. Well, that's all I wanted to share. Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Gratuitous/Sarcastic Afghanistan Photo of the Day (IX)


Nazi/Soviet/Khmer Rouge stormtroopers force culturally imperialist icons upon Afghan orphans.

Understanding War and Children

I was sitting at my desk and someone left Issue 14 Volume 83 of the Senior Weekly Reader from Dec 04. I noticed that an article in it is about the 9 Oct 04 Presidential Election. It's a good article and I wanted to share it here, but as I surfed for a link I found this. If you scroll down you will find an article written by a 13 year old. She complains "My question is why are we in Iraq when the cause of 9/11 was Osama Bin Laden? Shouldn't we be looking for him still? Did we just completely forget about Afghanistan or something?" Apparently she did!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Sorry - no, not really.

Senator Durbin gives us a classic "I'm sorry if you were offended by what you heard. " Nothing about being sorry about what he actually said. Well, here is an apology...Sorry Senator, not good enough.

Gratuitous/Sarcastic Afghanistan Photo of the Day (VIII)


Frightened Afghan youths flee Nazi/Soviet/Khmer Rouge-like Americans visiting Deh-e Hazara.

Who your Army REALLY is

Raven 42 gets their right and proper recognition. They are the men and women serving in your Army. Go read this and ask yourself if these people deserve the slander and calumny that has been flung out recently.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Would I be a Nazi, Soviet or Khmer Rouge, Senator Durbin?

Senator Dick Durbin (he of the "my relatives thought Lincoln was a Jew, because he was named Abraham and shot in the temple on a Friday" joke at the opening of the new Lincoln library in Springfield, Illinois) has figured out who the US servicemembers at Gitmo remind him of. I am not sure one so tone deaf can be persuaded to change the style of his rhetoric, but I sent him a constituent e-mail anyway. You can express your desire to see things work differently without comparing the US armed services to three of the most murderous totalitarianisms in human history.

UPDATE: Varifrank got angry, so I didn't have to.

Another Chicago picture, from over by 'dere


Another one Posted by Hello

A little bit of Chicago


I still can't get my photo on my profile, but I figured out how to post photos.See what I mean. Here's one Posted by Hello

I am TOTALLY confused about this picture thing!


The tortured soul of a writer look - thanks to Inner Prop... Posted by Hello

Note: This is the first time I have exercised editorial control as Administrator, heh heh. I just couldn't help myself... [Major John]

Links and a daily report

Links, yes blogmaster.

On Another Realm I have one story in the Short Story section (front page), one story in the Flash section. I recently sent two more that haven't apeared yet) and several stories in the previous Contest section:
Invasion , Vacation, Super , Civilization (Fall thereof) 2003 and 2004.

I also have a Flash story on Astounding Tales .

We had a visit from our friendly neighborhood room designer last night. She is designing my built-in office and a wall-to-wall entertainment and office space (homework space) for our basement. I am so looking forward to it. I will really feel like a real author then (almost as much as getting paid for writing).

I expect to also pick up my boat today. When I say boat people always say "Ooh" but its really only a rowboat with a sail. Maria of course made me upgrade it. She always does that. Whenever we go to get something for me I shoot for the "Good" version thinking that that's all we can afford and she upgrades us to "Better" because it will last longer. This time it was with safety in mind that she made me go with the bigger boat. Although that is never my plan I am never disappointed when it happens.

Yesterday my kids were watching reruns of game shows from the 80s on Nick and they told me they were ancient! Ouch!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Warning - too late

I should have warned everyone. We let a prop in the blog. The Inner Prop is a friend who happened to have twice as many rockets shot at him in Afghanistan as I did. He also, as you can see by the moniker, plays rugby. He manages to do it more successfully than I, and is better at avoiding injury.
I asked him to join Miserable Donuts to give us yet another, unique perspective. I also did it so he can provide us links to his fiction stories that have been web-published. AND IF HE DOESN'T PROVIDE HIS STORY, BELLWETHER'S ASTEROID, I'LL KICK HIM OFF! Heh, well...maybe not.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Hellooo. Any body home?

Ha, I can't believe they let me in. Nice to be here nice to be here, you're a wonderful crowd!

Does anybody else take photos of plaques on vacation so you can read them later when the spouse isn't asking you to hurry because you'll miss the last boat off the island?

Do you ever actually read them?

I did on our honeymoon (eons ago) and on a recent trip to Millennium Park in Chicago (like the Bean, love the Face-in-the-glass-block-reflecting-pool-waterfall thingie). I haven't read the darn things yet.

Freedom is just another word, that means you're not using Microsoft...

This should give anyone who dislikes Microsoft a heapin' helpin' of affirmation. Mr. Gates, are you comfortable finding yourself as a lowered pikestaff across the road to freedom?

UPDATE: Chinese blogger reaction. [Thanks to the Instapundit]

Gratuitous Afghanistan Photo of the Day (VII)


A sign directing people to the one gym in Charikar, capital of Parwan province. I guess you would have to say this is fairly good evidence of Arnold's global appeal...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Copping a Moonwalk

Michael Jackson walks on all counts (I used to prosecute child molesters, so I am neither surprised at the result or happy about it) - but if you want news or links, you ain't getting them here. Try Drudge.

Semi-Gratuitous Afghan Photo of the Day (VI)


I had a small part in getting a school built in Jangadam village. A couple of days ago, it finally opened. As a miserable math student, I was a bit chagrined to see what the first classroom had on the blackboard...

[Thanks to CPT Matt Pintur, TF Eagle for the photo and the update]

Friday, June 10, 2005

Never Again?

If the words "Never Again" are to ever carry any weight, then this is the time to find out.

Perry deHavilland writes from London:
"And where are the marchers in the west? Where are the protesters calling for justice in Zimbabwe? Where is the outrage from those tireless tribunes of the Third World, the UN? Why can I not hear the snarls of fury from the alphabet soup of NGOs? What of the legions of Guardian readers finding out about all this? What are they going to call for? Amnesty International is getting a lot of (bad) publicity from having called Guantanamo Bay 'a gulag' whilst now admitting they do not actually know what is happening there, yet why are they not straining every fibre of their being in opposition to this African horror?"

[thanks to WindsOfChanget.net for the above links]

I wish I had the answer of how to solve this dilemma, but I do know that inaction isn't it. Any mix of military, diplomatic and economic action available should be used. Now.

Posting may be light

We have had some bad news in one the Miserable Donuts families. Posting may be a bit light to non-existant for a few days.

Afghan Photo of the Day (V)


Mingled curiosity, a little fear and hope. The longer we kept going out to the villages, curiosity and hope almost always managed to overcome fear.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Since we are talking about gaming lately...

If any of this gaming talk has interested you, then check out The Carnival of Gamers.

Gratuitous Afghanistan Patrol Photo of the Day (IV)


"So, that's an Afghan militia post hmmm? You know, I guess our base isn't so bad after all..."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Gratuitous Afghanistan Photo of the Day (III)


"Death buys vegetables in the Charikar bazaar." Not really, but it sure looks that way.

Play by Email

Greetings Donuts o' Misery,

With no face-to-face board gaming opportunities, I have investigated alternatives. While the younger generation is comfortable with real time stuff, I find it lacks diplomacy and strategy. Besides, it takes too much time for a busy papa. And, I just cannot move a mouse that fast. And, I get a headache. So, I recommend a couple of turn-based play-by-email sites. Both are fun and require only limited time commitments.

The first is the Diplomacy Judge (DPJudge) at http://www.floc.net/dpjudge/ . Diplomacy is the game of games, and this site does a great job supplying it.

The second is Lords of Conquest at http://www.lordsofconquest.com/ . All the games appear to use the same engine. Turns are once per week.

Your Running Dog

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Daily Routines

I think you can tell a lot about someone by what's on their short list of web sites they check every day. (And if someone doesn't check the web daily at all, well, that says something about them, too, I imagine.) Here's my list, give or take a few. Quite a bit different from Major John's, I'll wager:

And a couple things I watch at least weekly (because they're not updated any more frequently than that):

What does this say about me? I'm pretty sure it says I'm a juvenile idiot, but hey, I can live with that.

Memories of Fish Lake


Fish Lake, originally uploaded by amiga3000.

This was the main lodge at Gaukel's Resort on Fish Lake in Wisconsin. The resort had camp sites, rental cabins, and privately-owned cabins. My grandparents owned a cabin on Fish Lake and I spent countless Summers there. Grandpa and Grandma had a boat dock, rowboat, fishing poles, and fire pit.

While I began going to Fish Lake as just a little guy, I remember most the period between 1974-1982. Grandma could give you a dollar which you could exchange at the Lodge for an A&W root beer, an ice cream sandwich, a Cracker Jack, and a game of Asteriods, SubHunt, or Space Invaders. Mornings were spent eating Swedish pancakes, days swimming, afternoons napping, evenings eating the days catch of Crappie or Sunfish, and nights playing Cribbage on the porch. Neighbors in surrounding cabins always had a smile, a fishing story, or a bowl of fresh-picked strawberries to share.

I took this photograph in Summer 2000.

Gratuitous Afghanistan Patrol Photo of the Day (II)


"I dunno Lieutenant...I don't think the auto club will come out here for this one."

Monday, June 06, 2005

Not for the politically sensitive

Ouch.

The Wisconsin Dells

I spent the weekend in The Wisconsin Dells with my family, just like I did with my own parents once or twice a year when I was a kid. Yes, it's a total tourist deathtrap, but I love it! I just can't get enough of world's-largest-this, interactive-that, water parks, and fudge shops.

Things I recommend you do in the Dells (especially if you have kids):

  • Ride the Ducks -- The Wisconsin Dells are beautiful and the only way to see them is by riding the Ducks or the boats. I love both, but assuming you've never ridden on a vintage WWII amphibious landing craft, you have to try the Ducks. The boats cover more terrain, so ride both if you can.
  • Wizard Quest -- This is basically a giant interactive playland/scavenger hunt game with a fantasy theme that my kids love. I think it's pretty cool, and if you really run around and do all the activities, even adults will get a little workout. You get points for answering questions for which the clues are hidden throughout the play area. When you get enough points, you can free the 4 trapped wizards. If you free them all within an hour, you win a discount at the attached gift shop. (Ok, sort of a scam, but still fun.)
  • Noah's Ark -- Billed as America's Largest Waterpark. I'm not sure how true that is, but trust me, it's huge. It's an all day affair, and well worth it, even if the lines are long.
  • Wiley's Woods -- This is a playland designed for little kids, and it's part of the Great Wolf Lodge. The Lodge is a very good place to stay with a (nice) large indoor water park right in the hotel, but there are probably a dozen places like that in the Dells, so it's really not the main thing. You can go to Wiley's Woods (for a fee) even if you're not staying at the Great Wolf Lodge. You get a wristband with a chip in it and you go around playing "games" (on 4 floors) that mostly involve collecting different colors of "berries" (foam balls) and depositing them in the right machines. The machines read your wristband and grant you points for doing the right things. You can also get "quests" that require you to find certain combinations of creatures "hidden" around the playland for big points. Sounds stupid, you say? Well, I challenge you to go into that place and not get sucked into the fun. You *have* to get 10,000 points to become "Master Creature Keeper"! I said to my friend, "I can't believe I'm 40 years old and I've happily spent my afternoon running around collecting foam balls. This is why I never got laid in high school...."
  • Fort Dells -- Ok, you'll have to build a time machine and travel back to '70s or so, but Fort Dells is still my top childhood memory of the Dells. By today's standards, probably pretty lame, but it had train rides and other amusements, lots of cowboy theme, and actors robbing the train and having shootouts in the streets.

Things that I recommend you avoid at all costs. Don't fall for their glossy ads that make it sound like they might actually be *fun*....

  • Alien Planet -- Top on my list for expensive yet embarrassingly horrible non-entertainment. You will literally kick yourself if you pay money to see this travesty. Basically the smallest, lamest haunted house style thing you've ever seen. Basically looks like somebody threw it together out of miscellaneous sci-fi TV/movie surplus props in their garage.
  • Top Secret -- Basically a MUCH bigger budget (and subsequently more costly) version of Alien Planet. There are actually a couple of decent scares in this one, but it's nowhere near as cool as you might think it would be from the upside-down White House outside. It might be worth it for about 1/5 the price... (Notice how even the website doesn't actually say anything about what it is -- If they told you, no one would pay to go in!) There's a brand-new place in the Dells called Looney Bin that I'm betting is basically the same junk in a different package. You won't catch me going in there...
  • Wonder Spot -- When I was a kid, I would beg my parents to take me to this place every year. One year they finally did. I guess it's sort of interesting to see, but I don't recommend paying for the privilege. If you've never seen a place like this before, it's basically a walk-through optical illusion. And last year I actually took my own kids to a place like this out in South Dakota that turned out to be absolutely *identical*. Can you send away for a kit to build one of these things, or what?
  • Storybook Gardens -- Ok, it's historic, but I really don't think families with even the tiniest toddlers need to waste their time seeing mostly unanimated life-size dioramas depicting Mother Goose rhymes. Really. It just doesn't get any more boring than this. Interestingly, I notice they now advertise Storybook Gardens as nothing more than a sidelight to Timbavati Wildlife Park.

Other than those things, most of the other stuff in the Dells is good fun. Of course, being a tourist trap, you just have to be prepared to spend tons of cash for even the simplest things, but I'm ok with that once in a while. The Dells are guaranteed to create and/or return fond childhood memories.

Good News? From Afghanistan?

Go see for yourself at Chrenkoff. It is a very long post.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Gratuitous Afghanistan Patrol Photo of the Day


"Yes, Sergeant, we are out here quite a ways, aren't we..."

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Death Chant for Weeds

I composed a little diddy today, dedicated to the weeds in my back yard. I like to call it "Die Weeds Die"

Die weeds die,
Die, die, die!
Die weeds, die
Die you #$%& things, DIE!

[repeat verse 47 times while pulling weeds]
after 48 repetitions devolve into cackling "die, die,die, DIE!"

I think my family is in reverent awe of my musical genius. At least that is how I am interpreting their stunned looks and quick retreat into the house as I capered about the back lawn clutching double handfuls of no-longer-resident-in-my-lawn, miserable GREEN INTRUDERS, DIE YOU FILTHY CHLOROPHYLL SOAKED SCUM, HAH!

Well, anyway, I think it'll rain too much for me to finish tomorrow...

Friday, June 03, 2005

Adjusting to Home

I have had many people ask something in the vein of "so is it different being back home?" Usually the next thing they say is something about "its better, of course..." I understand what they are trying to ask, however. "In a polite way, I'm just trying to find out if you are having any problems since you came back".
The short answer is - yes.
The Army does a much better job of getting you ready for going home than they did after my first deployment (Operation Joint Guard/Joint Endeavor in 1997) - so I was was dismayed by some things I felt and experienced, but not surprised by them. Initial letdown ("so that's it?") was much harder than I had expected. March 17th I went on 3 separate missions "outside the wire", March 19th my base was subjected to a rocket attack, March 21st I flew to Kyrgyzstan (during the recent revolution to boot!) March 23rd I landed in Wisconsin and by March 28th I was home. By March 30th I was feeling quite deflated.
Quite unexpected things set off strong reactions with little warning. Two examples: I went to a family gathering in Las Vegas in early May. When I saw the water/fountain show in front of the Bellagio - it just did not compute. I spent a lot of time and effort to help the Afghans in Parwan and Kapisa provinces get enough water to drink, much less grow crops. Here I was watching tens of thousands of gallons shooting into the air to amuse me. I was not very good company that evening; I saw a post on a milblog about an aircrew transporting a child who was a minestrike victim (I linked to it in an earlier entry). That was bad enough, but it brought back some memories I really didn't want to rehash. For some darn reason, a time when our best NCO and I escorted a father who had come to our base with his injured son (who had just died) to a guest house just off the base, came back to me. He was thanking us for what we had done, and I was already feeling terrible that we couldn't save his son. I had pushed that one to the back of my mind, but there it was again, front and center.
I do hope that this kind of stuff will lessen, in time. I know I don't have it as bad as the wounded, or those that saw much worse than I - and I sure hope I don't come across as whining or such. It's just a bit puzzling to me - and, again, people have asked.

Thanks for your attention

Mmmmm....fresh bread.


Lunchtime! Man, I miss Afghani bread...4 afghani (approximately 8 cents US) per "sheet" and darn tasty.

Big things start small... Very small.


babymantis2005a, originally uploaded by amiga3000.

This is a baby mantis (about a 1/4 inch long) that hatched with well over 100 other little brothers and sisters from a single egg case. My family and I collected some egg cases in early Winter and put them in our backyard. We were fortunate to be able to actually watch the hatching of this egg case as it happened... This little fellow is only an hour or so old.

We have been observing, photographing, and filming the mantis for about six years. This egg case hatched on June 30th, 2005 in Urbana, IL.

We will post updates throughout the Summer and Fall. Some of the mature mantis that we have observed in past seasons have been between 5 and 6 inches long...

"Where Central Wisconsin Meets the Concorde Age"

This is a choice bit of Midwestern Kitsch, but its the real deal. Austin Powers, eat your heart out.

The Gobbler!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Chillin' in Charikar


Sorry folks, I am in a reflective mood today. What does that mean? You get more Afghanistan pictures...This fellow was taking a break from selling pet birds along a main street in Charikar, Afghanistan in November of 2004.

When (Souvenir) Worlds Collide


Alien - a souvenir of Roswell, New Mexico that the Running Dog gave me.
Camel - a souvenir from the Bagram, Afghanistan bazaar.

I think they go together quite well.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Enemy in Afghanistan

This should tell you all you need to know about the enemy in Afghanistan. Buried in this story is mention of an attack on some Afghans who work for the UN Mine Action Center. The Mine Action Center has a single purpose - protect everyone from the landmines that are sown across Afghanistan. The Soviets left millions of mines in place when they withdrew, and the fight between the Taliban and the Afghan Government/Northern Alliance moved many of them around, and brought even more mines into the country. Every week I was at Bagram we had Afghans come to us for medical help as a result of mine-strikes. Too damn many were children. And too damn many died. We also had soldiers hurt and killed in minestrikes as well. Targeting those who seek to protect people from this hazard is one of the most revealing things the enemy could have done. They have not shown themselves to be the enemies of America. They have not shown themselves to be the enemies of Afghanistan. They have shown themselves to be the enemies of all that is good and decent in the whole world. More on this later.

I have not been truly angry since I came home - I am now.


UPDATE:


These 2 men went from school to school teaching kids about recognizing and avoiding mines and unexploded munitions. These are the people the enemy tries to kill.

UPDATE II: A sad, but ultimately uplifting example.

Sex and the Ethicist

Sorry, this really isn't about sex, but a racy title always catches a crowd. Titles mentioning 'ethics' tend to have just the opposite effect.

While I do teach bioethics at a hospital and a college of medicine, it'd be a stretch to call me an 'ethicist.' I don't earn a living at it, and I lack the JD/MD/PhD often necessary to legitimize seemingly arbitrary opinions. By day, I work as a mild-mannered fund raiser for a medical foundation.

Still, I'm versed enough in the issues that folks sometimes ask me how I feel about Terry Schiavo, stem cells and physician assisted suicide. Such requests never end well. I invariable say something to offend the inquirer, and the person ends up angry that I voiced the very opinion they sought in the first place. Serves 'em right. So, moving forward, if anyone has any questions about the exciting world of euthanasia, cloning and abortion, ask away! I'm guaranteed to offend.

Politically, I'm an independent (read: indecisive fence-sitter).
Professionally, I work in the heady ether of the not-for-profit sector,
Economically, I rarely understand what Running Dog says,
Athletically, I favor the CUBS,
Religiously, I'm a screaming liberal Catholic,
Cinematically, I thought Sith was quite good fun (a few minor gaffes aside),
Alchoholically, I prefer a Czech pilsner or Port,
Culinarily, I am pro-barbecue,
Musically, I dig Moby,
Historically, I'm researching a small town in the Midwest,
Philanthropically, I give locally not nationally,
Deontologically, I blog therefore I am.

Mighty Quinn out

Home Economics

The Wall Street Journal has had recent reports on how people are taking out interest-only loans or home equity loans to invest in real estate. This prompts me, the Capitalist Running Dog, to point out some misunderstandings people may have about the economics of real estate.

Your real estate agent may say, “The mortgage interest is tax deductible.” While you might not pay taxes, you are still paying the interest. The money is not free.

Your banker may say, “We will lend you this ridiculously large sum.” That does not mean you should. The bank cares little your ability to make payments in the event that you lose your job, have a divorce or suffer some other financial shock. The bank makes money processing and reselling your mortgage. Denying you an additional $100,000 in mortgage debt because it would increase your chance of defaulting costs the bank money today to avoid a potential repossession cost in the future. Money today wins most of the time. The bank’s lending limit is not a reliable guide for telling you how much you should borrow. It is a reliable guide to how much borrowing would make the bank the most profit.

Your relatives may say, “Renting is just throwing money away. A house builds equity.” This makes the most sense when you compare renting to the most basic house that reproduces what an apartment offers. As you move from a small house to a larger house the logic breaks down because you own in either case. What does happen with each $50,000 upgrade in size and location is that you paymore taxes, insurance and upkeep. Also, if you are borrowing that additional money, then you are actually reducing the amount of equity you create because you pay more in interest.

Your friends may say, “Borrow as much as you can because real estate prices will not collapse like stock prices sometimes do.” It is true that real estate values are very unlikely to fall dramatically; however, they can certainly stop rising. Does your interest-only mortgage or investment property make you a profit then? You may think you can sell out before the market stalls, but realize that you are taking a gamble. Taking risks can be reasonable investing, but, if you do not believe that you can get burned, then you are set up for a big surprise.

Is that enough cold water for such a sunny day?

Your Running Dog

David's sling?

Professor Reynolds has thoughts on the "do it yourself" revolution. He makes good points - I had not considered this much beyond the blogging aspect. Maybe Running Dog can expound further..

"Deep Throat" Revealed. So What.

I believe the massive amount of ink being spilled or electrons being launched about the confirmation of the identity of Watergate's "Deep Throat" is ego driven. The story quickly devolves into the media congratulating itself over its heroes Woodward and Bernstein and how wonderful it was that the press broke a president. I feel I speak for many when I say - so what, and pass the remote please. This concludes my morning rant.
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